Gay Times July 12 - Issue 408
From the minute a hyperactive Sam and Ben Allen bounce into GT’s studio, you know they’re pretty good actors. During the four weeks of filming reality show Playing It Straight, the identical twins were forced to tone down their naturally flamboyant selves and pretend to be heterosexual to convince a woman one of them would make an ideal boyfriend. Although they came close, she eventually saw through them.
Now the cameras have stopped rolling and the handsome 22-year-olds are back to their normal selves and bursting with quirky campness. Now, if only GT could tell them apart….
More from Gay Times July 12 - Issue 408
We must admit, we’re struggling to spot your differences, boys…
Ben: Well I’m a bit taller and a little bit slimmer.
Sam: So what, I’m the short fat one? Thanks. I think Ben’s more fashion conscious than I am. I tend to be more casual.
How did you end up doing Playing It Straight?
Ben: I was working in shop in London’s Carnaby Street when one of the casting directors came in and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a TV show. She asked me if I was gay or straight. I said I was gay, and by the way, I have a gay identical twin brother. Her face lit up and she got quite excited.
Sam: Two weeks later we were in Spain filming.
As gay men, you had to lie and pretend you were straight to try and win £50,000. How easy was it to bullshit so blatantly?
Ben: I found it so difficult. If I’m happy and myself, I’m Mr Uber Gayness. But I had to tone it down and after a couple of days I thought ‘I’m really not enjoying this’ and was miserable. Then I just gave up and played it like I’m so gay that I can’t actually be gay and from then on I had a great time.
Sam: I drew on my experiences of hanging around straight guys in university when I was getting drunk, kissing a lot of women and people didn’t suspect I was gay. It helped having my brother there. None of the others could confide in anyone else, so it was good to have some twin time and talk things through.
Even though you didn’t know which of the other 12 guys were gay or straight, was there any behind the scenes flirting?
Ben: We all went out one night and got very drunk. Later, one of the other guys, Danny, knocked on my door and came in and we chatted, then he told me he was gay. I didn’t believe him at first. I thought he was trying to get it out of me if I was gay. But he could tell I was. It was good for him to have me to talk to. We’d wait til 4am when everyone had gone to bed and have late night chats and became quite close. Then we dated for six months but split up a couple of months ago. But we’re still good friends.
Some critics said the show was homophobic by making gay men pretend they’re something they’re not. Ben: It’s not. It set out to make a point about this generation’s men. People like The Only Way Is Essex’s Joey Essex and Mark Wright have become so metrosexual that you can no longer tell who’s straight and gay by going on old fashioned stereotypes.
When did you realise you were gay?
Ben: I was first. I started thinking it when I was 13 but didn’t come out til I was 15.
What were you like as kids?
Ben: People tell us we were the campest four-year-olds they’d ever seen.
Sam: We loved doing boy stuff – we’d climb trees but we’d do it in high heels and mum’s négligée. We put a gay spin on everything.
Did kids at school pick up on that?
Sam: Yeah, we were bullied for being so camp and they all knew we were gay before we did. They behaved like being gay was a bad thing, so we wanted to prove that we weren’t and we fought against it. It was mainly name calling at first, then one day a boy kept hitting my head against a canteen door. I got embarrassed and upset. I’d also get uncomfortable changing into my gym kit around the other boys for PE, so I’d wear it under my uniform and got changed outside. I didn’t want them to think I was looking at them.
To read the full article, pick up the latest copy of GT out in all good retailers, online and downloadable on your iPhone or iPad.
Image:Photography by Leigh Keily, assisted by Stephen Conway, Style Editor Dennis Maloney, Stying by Russell Phillip Peek, Grooming by Evan Huang using YSL and NARS, Assisted by Sophie Blakesley and Sophie Pethers
. Sam wears T-shirt by Markus Lupfer, markuslupfer.com, Shorts by Aqua, aquabyaqua.com, Ben wears sunglasses by Mosley Tribes, mosleytribes.com, Briefs by HOM, hom.com